The possible end of short sales – an annual tradition

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blog-author-clayjeffreys3

It seems like a year ago this scenario was making rounds in headlines. Well, that is because it was in the headlines.

When a home is sold as a short sale, the seller (former homeowner) receives a 1099 for the difference of what is owed on the home they just sold versus the amount they sold the home for in the short sale. For example… a seller owes $300,000 on a home that sells as a short sale for $200,000. The seller receives a 1099 from the bank for the difference of $100,000. That difference of $100,000 is taxable income due to the IRS. The seller could have a tax liability around $25,000 owed to the IRS.

This nightmare scenario for homeowners underwater and attempting to short sale their home has not been a problem over the past several years. The Mortgage Debt Forgiveness Act passed in 2007 allowed short selling homeowners to not be liable for the difference of what is owed from the sale of their former home. This Act expired at the end of 2012, but was extended by Congress for an additional year.

Since Congress is basically done for 2013, and didn’t agree on a lot over the course of the year, this Act will expire at the end of the year. The one hope homeowners still in the short sale process have is that Congress will reconvene in 2014 and extend the Mortgage Debt Forgiveness Act retroactively for another year. If Congress fails to do this, then the debt forgiven by the bank on short sales becomes taxable income for the seller on their next tax return.

Since short sellers already face financial hardships (thus the reason for the short sale in the first place), this would not be welcome news as their choices would be a short sale with a tax liability OR foreclosure/bankruptcy.

Hopefully Congress can begin agreeing and working together a little better in the coming year. Extending the Mortgage Debt Forgiveness Act seems like a “win” for both sides. Let’s see how it all unfolds in 2014.

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